In My Mug Audio

Episode 656: Kenya Kiriga Estate AB

June 5, 2021

Kiriga Estate sits between 1,550 and 1,650 metres above sea level. It is approximately five kilometres from Thika town, which is an industrial town in the central province of Kenya. It's four kilometres from Blue Posts hotel, which has the famous Chania and Thika falls. Thika lies 50 kilometres northeast of Nairobi.

Administratively, the Kiriga coffee estate is in the Gatanga constituency of Muranga county, and it's separated from Kiambu county by the Chania river.

Kiriga coffee is predominantly SL28 variety (notable for its world-renowned cup quality). The farm has an estimated two hectares of Ruiru 11 variety (which has improved resistance to coffee berry disease and leaf rust); some K7 variety (similar characteristics as SL28, but with better resistance to leaf rust compared to SL28); and a field of the newest Batian variety. About 60% of the coffee that the estate produces is AA/AB.

Like any natural product, each coffee bean is different - some bigger, some smaller, some longer, some rounder...that's lead coffee buyers many years ago to begin separating the coffee by the size of the bean.

Throughout the world, this is done by screens - like a stack of flat colanders, with each layer having slightly smaller holes in it than the layer above. Whatever the smallest size a bean passes through, that’s its size. In most places, they’re named by 1/64th inch - so a screen 18+ means all the beans are 18/64th of an inch or bigger. Simple, right?

Well...in Kenya they use the same screens, but give them different names. An “AA” is screen 17 and 18, an “AB” is screen 16 and 15 and anything smaller (but still a whole bean) is a “C”. There’s one more class you might have tried - “PB” or Peaberry. That’s a bit different again, but it’s usually separated from the other beans because the round cross-section of a peaberry lets it pass through the holes of a screen easily.

This year we will have the AA, AB, C and Peaberry from Kiriga - so big beans, medium beans, little beans and even littler beans! Traditionally, the AA has got the highest prices (they’re about 15-20% of the crop), with AB being a bit cheaper and C going into commodity coffee. However, Brian from Kiriga sent us his C to try the year before last for the first time and we were wow-ed - it’s really sweet and nice - so we began buying it and are super excited to have it again for another year. The Peaberry has previously been included in with the C, due to the similar size and smaller harvests, however this year the two have been separated out and there's enough of it to stand alone!

All coffee activities at Kiriga are carried out at a factory level, from the coffee nursery to all the farm operations (pruning, weed control, nutrition, irrigation, basin digging, disease control, infilling, mulching, and planting). Wet mill operations are also carried out on the factory level. Kiriga delivers both parchment coffee and Mbuni (naturals) to the commercial dry mill for milling and grading, in preparation for sale at coffee auctions and via indirect sale.

In addition to growing coffee the estate also has shoats (sheep and goats), a dairy, and the potential to keep fish. It's all about diversity, and what's more diverse than a 'shoat'?! The estate is also occasionally visited by two hippos, in addition to some bird-life, while also being the home of a family of monkeys. 

Blackcurrant jam in a cup. Super sweet with brown sugar and biscuit against the blackcurrant and then a little sprinkle of cocoa nibs on the aftertaste.

  • Country: Kenya
  • Region: Central Province
  • District: Muranga
  • Constituency: Gatanga
  • Nearest town: Thika
  • Estate: Kiriga
  • Farmer: Dr Brian Gakunga
  • Altitude: 1,550–1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals: SL28 AB & Ruiru 11 AB
  • Processing method: Washed

CUPPING NOTES

Blackcurrant jam, brown sugar, biscuit, cocoa nibs

Clean cup: (1–8): 6
Sweetness: (1–8): 6.5
Acidity: (1–8): 6.5
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6.5
Flavour: (1–8): 6.5
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 6.5
Overall: (1–8): 6.5
Correction:(+36): +36

Total (max. 100): 87

Roast Information
Medium - keep it fairly quick to highlight the acidity, or slow it down slightly if you want to develop some more of the jammy sweetness. Either way, finish the roast

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